The Myrrh-Bearing Women - 4/26/2015
Courage is a quality that is not earned or given; it is something that is inherent within only a select few. How often do we see individuals stand up against tyranny, oppression, and our rights to live as free people of this world? We strive to live as courageous and God fearing people. When true oppression comes will we be ready to stand for our faith? Many people believe we are living in the end days, and that the return of Christ is eminent, but none know the hour or the time, save the God the Father.
Throughout the scriptures, we find many instances of cowardice, grumbling and complaining. In the past few weeks we have celebrated Pascha, and we have read and learned about those who could not be strong enough to stand up against those in power. Judas betrayed his friend, the scribes and Pharisees so jealous of Jesus used customs and ritual to convince Pilate to kill the Prince of Peace. And Pilate afraid of repercussions of the emperor believed if he washed his hands of Jesus’ blood that the guilt would be removed from him.
It was either plain and simple fear that influenced these people or the fear of losing status or rank, or simply in Judas’s instance Satan filling his mind with the notion that betraying Jesus to the temple was either going to save Jesus or cause an upheaval that would bring about change. All of these people had the same lacking within them—no courage only fear.
Even all of the disciples ran from the Mount of Olives when the temple guards came to arrest Jesus. And later when Peter followed him and he was questioned about his association with the Nazarene, Peter denied his friend three distinct times.
Do we not see the same fear and cowardice in today’s world? The news is filled with controversies such as terrorist acts, GMO labeling, drug use, pornography, the list goes on and on, and the problem is that very few people stand against these things and the few that do are targets of ridicule, slander or even in extreme cases murder.
What is the Christian called to do in this world? We are called to be servants of God. Some of us are called to rally, some of us are called to preach and some of us are called to war. There was on old saying that said, evil thrives when the good do nothing. We need to be courageous and stand against the profane and the evil doings of this world. The ruler of this world, Satan, does not care about purity or holiness or courage, he only care about perversion and darkness. He only cares about twisting what is pure for his own devises and one of the best ways for him to do so is to rule by fear.
But not all people are cowards. My wife gave me an insight I had never thought about on the Gospel reading of St. Mark. In this short reading we see a group of individuals that stood to lose much in their stance of courage. The first individual that we read about is Joseph of Arimathea. The people that he celebrated and served with in temple had just conspired and crucified Jesus. There was nothing to stop them from doing the same to him, but none the less he went against the system of the temple and went and stood before the enemy of their people to ask for the body of Jesus. The scripture says he boldly went and stood before Pilate with his petition. Could you imagine what was going on in his mind? Not only was he asking his peoples enemy for Christ’s body, but he also knew he was going to be ridiculed by his fellow priests of the temple. The scripture says that he was a high ranking councilor, so this choice could have cost him his position or the possibility of being killed.
Next we read about the women who stood and watched the heavy stone pushed in front of the entrance. They knew they wanted to go to the body of Jesus and prepare him with the ointment and spices. They knew that guards were posted, and a seal was placed on the tomb. They even asked themselves who was going to move the stone away for them. They knew that the guards would not do it for them, and the disciples were too busy hiding to come with them.
But none the less the boldly went to the tomb not knowing what opposition would be waiting for them, or of the guards would deny them or even kill them for trying to enter the tomb. These women had courage, even more so then a lot of the men who were with them. These women show us a glimpse of what true bravery is all about. And when they came to the tomb, it is not without amazement that it was the myrrh bearing women that found the tomb empty with an angel waiting to proclaim to them the good news. He tasked them to carry the news to the disciples and tell them that Jesus was not their but had risen from death.
Upon searching my mind for individuals who speak out to the world about sin and its effects I was hard pressed to read about many Christians who do so, or for that fact anyone who stands against the world and its sin. I may be so bold as to say, that many people do not know who the Orthodox Church are or what we stand for, but that is an argument that can be addressed for another time. (And, before I end this bit of writing, I first want to say that anyone may comment on this if I am wrong, please correct me if you know of any who have made a large impact on today’s society, I myself do not know of anyone that is still alive that is close to saint hood.)
However, we do have some bold individuals in this world. Having the courage to stand up and speak out against what you believe is inspiring. The age of courage did not end with the disciples and with the saints. Whatever you may think of him, in recent events Pat Robertson has spoken boldly out against homosexuality and terrorism. He has built a massive empire dedicated to God and to proclaiming the Gospel. The 700 Club raises money and has become something that practically everyone knows about. He, along with some other well know preachers of our time have the courage to get on the TV and proclaim a message that too many are afraid to proclaim. I myself have found inspiration many times in listening to individuals such as Joel Osteen and Charles Stanley. We also see individuals like Kirk Cameron and Alex Kendrick that belongs to Sherwood Church producing faith-filled films that proclaim the word of God to the world.
Some of the politicians, even hierarchs and priests do speak out against touchy subjects, such as homosexuality, abortion and other politically-charged issues, but, usually they are either removed from their positions or reprimanded by their constituents because of others disagreeing with what they say, no matter their freedoms of speech or their freedom of religion which coincides with the biblical translation/interpretation of Scripture, and nature.
As Christians we must be bold in our faith and speak out when there is something that must be said. Everyone that is called to serve God needs to allow their courage to flow and use the talents that was provided them. Not all can minister or preach, not all can write and serve at a soup kitchen, but if a talent is revealed, we must use it and not squander it into nothingness. Courage is within us all, we must use it every day in every aspect of our lives.